My heart was racing. It was 3: 55 pm on June 5th and no matter how many times I refreshed my inbox, there was no news from Global Citizen Year. “Maybe it’s time to accept that I wasn’t accepted,” I thought to myself, 20 seconds before the phone rang with a message that would indeed change my life. When the Global Citizen Year staff told me that I had not only been accepted into the program, but that I’d been given a fully-funded fellowship, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. My cheeks were flushed. I felt nervous and shaky and shocked and excited and scared and happy and sad all at the same time. A million questions flooded my mind. Even as I write this, I still cannot believe that I will be going to Senegal.
There is a mystery behind it all. I don’t know who I will be staying with. I don’t know what city I will live in. I barely speak French. I don’t know a word of Wolof. There is a mystery and curiosity behind what will happen when I arrive in California for Orientation on August 21. Who will I meet? Will the Fellows joining me in Africa become a set of friends I consider my family by the end of our stay? Or will they be simple strangers and stay that way? As I said, a million questions, curiosities, fears, doubts, and hopes.
All I can really say for sure is that this a new beginning in my life. I have traveled before. I’ve lived in Northern Africa (Morocco) for many years of my life. But this is so different in so many ways. The biggest difference being that I will not be with my family, who have always traveled with me, who have always supported me and stood by my side as we adjusted to new countries, cities, and continents. So cheers to a new beginning, a new chapter. With a positive outlook and ambition and hope, I’m sure that this year will pass by in a blink of an eye, and by the end, I know I’ll be saying, “Wow. Look how everything has changed.”